Archive for Wednesday, November 3, 1999

If wishes were horses

Publisher’s memo

November 3, 1999

Were I a lady of leisure, I know how I would spend some of these gorgeous October days we've been having. I would grab some big pillows, one of my favorite mysteries, a glass of iced tea, a cat or two, and head for my porch swing.

From there I would swing, pet my cats, read a little, sip tea and look up occasionally to take in the big hill across the road from our farm, where the trees have been cloaked in magnificent colors. I would sigh in utter contentment, turn back to my book, and never, ever look at a watch or a clock. My supply of books and iced tea would be never-ending and the weather would remain early-autumn perfect.

I wouldn't be wearing any shoes.

And my flower beds would remain full of flowers which as usual this summer kept doing better and better. Every day they got closer to that final, killing frost.

But I'm not a lady of leisure, and so as I head for one task or another, on one of those perfect Sunday afternoons, to catch up with things I wouldn't have to worry about if I didn't procrastinate, I merely feel sorry for myself instead. I leave the cats to swing on the porch swing and wonder how it is that domestic pets get to do all the things I only dream about. What is wrong with this picture?

Before we know it, the weather is going to take a change for the worse, the trees will be barren of leaves and no one will want to go outside until April. The skies, even though they may be blue, won't bring us any warmth and everyone will disagree about where to set the thermostats. I will bring my ratty old electric heat pad to the office and try to hide it in my chair for warmth. I won't go barefoot again until spring and none of my animals will go outside unless forced to do so.

I tell myself that it takes winter to make us appreciate the other three seasons, and it takes regular employment where everything does not always go smoothly to force us to appreciate those days when we can dally over a good book and some iced tea. That is the mature outlook on life and even I though I may recognize it, I don't always share it, deep down inside.

Everybody's ideas of perfect are not the same, of course, and what is perfect to me is, undoubtedly, utterly boring to others. I don't need or want the television going; I can live forever without the radio, and I could bury my telephone six feet deep under the grapevines in our garden and never miss it. And I certainly don't have an affinity for email.

But I do need my books and my animals and access to the out of doors and my family (most of the time) in order to feel whole. I could live forever without shoes and dress-up clothes so long as I'm given a comfortable sweatshirt and old jeans, and maybe some homemade grape jelly and really good homemade bread, to go with my books. (And now that my memory is fading, I can reread my books in perfect happiness.)

So, the next time I feel buried at my desk, frantically wondering if I will have fulfilled others' expectations of me, I should take a deep breath, think about these things I've described, and become calm, right?

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